Pearl Barley Risotto with Tomatoes and Watercress

Pearl Barley Risotto with Tomatoes and Watercress

Pearl Barley has been one of my favourite go-to ingredients during lockdown and there is always loads of it on the shelf because so many people do not use it, yet its cheap and versatile and on this occasion makes a great Pearl Barley Risotto. Can be used as a replacement for Rice, Pasta & Potatoes, plus you can alway tell the kids they’re Sugar Puffs! This could be used for a healthy lunch or can be presented for a special occasion.

Health benefits of Pearl Barley include helping lose weight because it fills you up, lowering cholesterol & the risk of heart disease. To look up further benefits, Healthline have a great article.

This is inspired by Israeli Chef Yotam Ottoleghi he often features in The Guardian Food magazine: Feast.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please check out the Pearl Barley Spring Broth

Ingredients for Pearl Barley with Watercress

Serves 5
  • 400 g Yummy Plum/Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 Fennel
  • 200 g Radishes (These are awesome roasted!)
  • 2 tsp Caraway Seeds
  • 2 Banana Shallots (or you could use onions)
  • 1 head of Garlic
  • 1 Large Lemon (or 2 small)
  • 1 Red Chilli (Or more if you like hot!)
  • 175 ml White Wine
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 300 g Pearl Barley
  • A bunch/bag of Watercress
  • Olive Oil

    Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients for ones you already have!


  • Food Processor or Hand Blender
  • Oven Tray
  • A Medium Pan
  • Large Saute Pan

Creating Pearl Barley with Watercress

Prep time 20 mins Cook Time 20-30 mins

Phase 1
  1. Wash your hands
  2. Turn the oven onto Gas 3
  3. Take the ends of the 2 Fennel & cut each into 8 segments
  4. Cut the 200 g Radishes in half (remove the green tops if they have them)
  5. Cut the top off the Garlic Head so the cloves are exposed
  6. Place the Fennel, Tomatoes, Radishes & Garlic onto an oven tray. Generously pour over Olive Oil, add extra to the Garlic
  7. Season with Salt & Pepper & put into the oven
Pearl Barley Risotto
Tomatoes, Fennel, Garlic & Radishes

Phase 2

  1. Take half of you Watercress & blend it in the Food Processor, slowly pour in Olive Oil until it is has a good consistency. Pour the dressing into a pot
  2. Check the Watercress Dressing for seasoning, may need a little Salt & set aside
Phase 3
  1. Give the Pearl Barley a little rinse & put in a Medium Pan with plenty of water & a tbsp of Salt and put on a Medium Heat
  2. Finely dice the 2 Banana Shallots & set aside
    (If you peel them but leave the root on they will be easier to dice)
  3. Grate the zest from the Lemon
  4. Finely dice the 1 Red Chilli (remove the seeds for milder / I do to suit the family, then add something like Tabasco my dish)
  5. In your Saute Pan chuck in the Caraway Seeds & put on a Medium Heat, give them a wiggle every now & then, give them 4-5 minutes in a dry pan to release the flavours
  6. Check the Pearl Barley, you want it to be al dente (firm to the bite). If it is ready drain it off. If not leave a little longer, just keep an eye on it & drain when ready
  7. After the Caraway Seeds have worked their magic, add the Shallot, Chilli, Lemon & 3 tbsp Olive Oil to the pan
  8. Let all this fry together for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  9. Add 2 tbsp Tomato Puree to the Shallot Base & stir over a Medium heat for 2 more minutes
  10. Now pour in the Wine (No, this was not to drink whilst you were cooking!)
  11. Let the wine simmer for 3-4 minutes
  12. Add 400 ml Water & finally chuck in the drained Pearl Barley
  13. Combine together and let simmer on a Medium Heat & be sure to stir in between preparing the rest of the dish
  14. Keep some water in a jug just in case you need to add a little more

Phase 4
  1. Remove the Garlic from the Oven Tray & let it cool. The oven can now go on a Low Heat.
  2. Squeeze out the Roasted Garlic into your Pearl Barley & give a stir to combine
  3. Season the Risotto up with Salt & Pepper & serve up topping with the Roasted Radish, Fennel & Tomatoes.
  4. Finally drizzle the Watercress Dressing & leftover Watercress Leaves

Happy Eating

For more yummy Vegan Recipes check out our other sections:

Pearl Barley Risotto
Sleepy Clover

Recipe Feedback